Seriously. Eff The Scale.

The cover of my future book.
The cover of my future book.

“Why did I gain weight the second week of diet.”

“Gained weight week 2 discouraged”

“Stuck to plan and still gained weight.”

“How many chocolate bars can I eat in one hour and not die?”

These are the things I found myself Googling Friday morning after seeing I had gained almost a pound from last week after sticking to my diet RELIGIOUSLY.

Week one is easy on ANY diet because you always lose tons of weight the first week of a diet. But week two shouldn’t mean: GAIN! Not when you’ve actually been careful!

Let me back up a bit: The lowest I’ve been in the last two years is 135 (I’m 5’3″) and that was several months ago. I then proceeded to put on 10+ pounds and weighed in at about 145 when I first started using MyFitnessPal two weeks ago.

First week? 5+ pounds. 139lbs. EASY. Awesome. Now, I knew not to get really excited about that because I’ve started new diets often enough to know that the first week always sees you losing several pounds.

I figured I’d stay the same, or drop half-of-a-pound at the most on week two.

NOPE. Gained ONE pound.

Now, that should mean that I was 3500 calories in excess for the week – to equal weight gain of one pound. WHICH I KNOW IS A MATHEMATICAL IMPOSSIBILITY. Logically? I know I didn’t actually gain a pound. If anything? I turned some fat into muscle. Or I’m bloated. Or something. The smart side of my brain KNOWS not to panic about that one pound.

But the Crappy Body Image Addicted To Food part of my brain? Is a mess. I’m giving up my anxiety cure every night: Binging Before Bed. This makes me crazy all the time. But I’m doing it! Two weeks and no emotional eating binges! And to gain a pound? Makes that side of my CRAZY AS ALL CRAZY CAN BE.

I mean – EVERY DAY that pound stared at me from the scale – MOCKING my efforts to break my emotional addiction to food.

And then this weekend? The scale said 138.9. YAY! That seems better! Much more realistic considering my efforts!

And then this morning? Back to 140.2. Same as where it was all week when I went to bed everything night restless and anxious because I was not doing my pre-bed binge ritual.

LOGICAL BRAIN: Chill Out, Kim! You can see changes in your body! You’re proud of yourself and you look great! You’re fit! You’re awesome! You ran 31 miles this weekend! YOU KICK ASS. EFF THE SCALE. Don’t even look at the scale!

EMOTIONAL EATER SIDE OF MY BRAIN: Gained weight. There is no point. Give up now. Binge, Baby. BINGE!

Please tell me I’m not the only one stupid-crazy about this stuff? And please remind me that two weeks without a binge is such a great thing for a personal emotional connected to food and that I should not forget that, no matter what the scale says. Right? I don’t need to adjust my calories, do I? I mean – MyFitnessPal seems to be logical about all of that and gives me calories to eat when I work out. I should trust that and ignore this one pound, right?

(Also – tell me to put down the donuts. Because, while I’m not currently holding any, there’s a good chance this one pound will drive me to purchase them today.)

42 Comments

  • Fun mama

    Katie over at Runs for Cookies has written several times about the scale always showing a gain after her long runs. I don’t think she knows why either, just knows it will happen and that IT IS NOT REAL.

    So that is my logical response. My not so logical one: throw away your scale. Just use your tightest pair of jeAns as your accountability. The scale is stupid.

    • Wendalette

      Funny, I was going to say something similar, though not going quite as far as to throw out the scale….I was going to suggest maybe weighing in only once a month. There are far too many variables that can throw your weight off a bit (a heavy meal, a big drink of water, bloat, muscle build, even a long tub soak!) from week to week,, so I figure that once a month can give you a better idea of your “actual” weight and its trend, rather than the mocking weekly snapshot of fluctuations.
      [HAHAHA, I just wrote that last word FAR differently and rated R the first time. Still must be a little bitter about the old scale.]

    • Beth

      I came to say the same thing. If you feel good, and look good, what does the number on the scale matter? Throw it out, or use it once in a while to make sure you’re staying on track. You’re awesome, and you’ve accomplished so very much, don’t let that silly little machine ruin all of your hard work for you.

      • zoot

        I wish I could! I don’t know what my compulsion/addiction is to the scale, but I’ve tried to break the habit and fail every time. Maybe THATS where my issue lies šŸ™‚

  • Fun mama

    Just reading about this, your body stores extra glycogen to help repair itself after a long run. So your pound is a thusly serving a purpose, other than just screwing with your head.

  • Jenny

    Oh, these posts of yours make me sad. You are such a huge inspiration on taking care of your physical health. You have made so many strides and sacrifices in order to make your body strong, but when it comes to your mental health you just keep trying the same thing over and over again and blaming yourself when you fail.

    You deserve to be healthy AND happy. Could you ever have become a runner without the help and support of others and professionals? But you expect yourself to be able to conquer your binging and anxiety all on your own.

    Listen, I know I have overstepped my bounds as some random lurker, but to me you are a shining example of doing what you have to do in order to live the life you want to live. As I have been reading you have continuously stretched out of your comfort zone in so many areas and it’s an amazing inspiration. I just hope that some day you realize that it’s ok to ask for professional help in this area, too, and more importantly, that you DESERVE it.

    I am really sorry if this comment is over the line. Two weeks without binging is awesome, by the way.

    • Cait

      I emphatically second this (as another longtime dedicated lurker). First of all, two weeks without binging is amazing, and you should be emotionally rewarding yourself not just for the number of days, but for the context (your first baby is a senior, you’re incredibly busy with a lot of moving parts in your life, so removing your old safety blanket is super hard).

      Is there any way you’d reconsider the scale’s role in tracking your current healthier habits effort? Obviously some things in life that cause their own anxiety are worth doing (like consciously trying to stop binge eating), but have you stepped back and really thought about why this new beginning HAS to involve tracking your weight (at all, or more than once a month)?

      If seeing a pound difference (when human body weight fluctuates by several pounds daily for all sorts of reasons) can have such a negative effect on your mood, to the point of preventing you from enjoying what actually is a victory, why do you have to look? Not looking at the scale does not have to equal slipping back into the place where you’re missing boot camp and eating things that don’t make you feel good. Why not make the journey about giving your body and mind only rewards (feeling awesome after that run, eating a good meal, enjoying one treat without binging, celebrating weeks without binging) without inserting something into your daily life that is almost guaranteed to add to your anxiety?

      Lots of us are cheering for you, and I hope you are able to separate your feelings of achievement from the scale’s untrustworthy feedback.

      • zoot

        I wish I could break my “addiction” to the scale. I know that logically it probably does more harm than good, but it’s a compulsive tendency, like I just go crazy if I don’t know what I weigh every morning. That probably means my issues are worse than I thought šŸ™‚

  • Kim

    You’re not alone. I promise. Saturday? I was at 186. I was super, super psyched. I was 1 pound away from that magical 50 pounds lost mark. ONE FREAKING POUND! I could do it! I got up Sunday, 186.6. OK, no big deal. Water weight, bloating. Whatever. It wasn’t THAT big of a deal. (Let’s not even discuss my freakout Saturday night when my scale was reading 200, and it turns out that the batteries were just loose. Yeah.)

    Yesterday, I went to the gym, went for 30 minutes on the cross trainer, and ate pretty well, with the exception of a tiny piece of cake, a small scoop of ice cream, and then I caved and had some boiled hot dogs. No rolls, no carbs, NOTHING.

    This morning? 187.4. And I was the exact. same. way. About to throw in the towel, and give up, and say it isn’t worth tourturing myself. It’s not worth depriving me of all my lovelys, and all the things that I hold near and dear to my heart (Re: Donuts. Cake. Muffins. Cookies.) Then I stepped back and thought about all the progress I have made. I’m stronger, my knees don’t hurt as much, I can RUN! Not nearly as well as you can, or as far as you can, but I can run for a solid MINUTE on the treadmill! I haven’t done that since I was a teenager!

    It’s probably just water weight, or your body building up for a large bowel movement or something. (Sorry, was that a bit gross?) Just step back and realize, FIVE POUNDS. That’s AWESOME! You got this =D

    • zoot

      It actually helps so much knowing other people do the same thing I do, and running ANY distance for ANY time is something to celebrate! I am still just as proud of my first mile as I am my last 50K!

  • Laura (laura flea)

    I always weigh more after a long run. It’s because you are hydrating yourself properly. And how often are you weighing yourself? Stick with once per week, same day, same time – after poop, before the long run šŸ™‚ You are very inspiring, and make me want to try one more trail run, one more time, and see if I can do it without hurting myself.

    • zoot

      I have this weird compulsion to weigh daily. I’ve tried to break it but it turns out that addiction is harder to break than the emotional eating one šŸ™‚

  • Monica

    I started to suggest throwing away the scale and then I thought no, you’ll just have to spend money on a new scale. Why don’t you have E or your husband hide it somewhere for a while? That way you can’t get on it everyday and you can judge your success by the things that you know make sense, like you clothing fitting better or the great shape you are in. You look awesome! You are awesome! And fighting that stupid scale is just one battle you don’t need.

    • Jennifer

      I’ve rarely commented although I read you all the time. But I have a suggestion for you. I really think you need a new scale — one that does NOT have decimal places. Those will make you CRAZY. I have an old fashioned scale with a dial. It is marked with big lines and numbers for every 5 pounds and small, nearly impossible to see lines marking the pounds in between. Some days, particularly without my glasses, I can’t really tell if I’m 147, 148 or 149. I just know I’m a bit under 150 and I’m happy. When it creeps above 150, I worry. Makes life SO much easier.

      • zoot

        That actually sounds like the most genius idea ever. Because I’ve tried NOT weighing myself every day and I just can’t – but the “vague” readings may be exactly what I need!

  • Cara

    First, NO DONUTS. It will only make you feel worse.

    There. Now that I’ve actualized your inner voice for you, can we get serious a second? I’m with Jenny. When you decided you needed to cook more and better, you did your research, took baby steps, laughed at the slip ups, and kept at it. You looked for resources and found what worked for you. Now you cook. When you decided to get healthy, you started running. You were trying to make that second to everyone else’s needs, cramming it in late on the Y treadmill. And it didn’t really work. So, you researched what would work, found good resources in boot camp and your running group and prioritized it. Look at you now.

    This is the same thing. You can’t just tell yourself to stop feeling anxious or stressed. And you can’t just live with it. It’s not normal to feel that way all the time. Maybe you’re already looking for those resources (because I know not everything is blog fodder), but if you’re not, please do. You deserve to feel better. And I remember you writing about a hesitancy to take meds, which I share, but there are other options. Find a good counselor or behavioral therapist, rather than a doctor, and they’ll be able to share strategies that can help. Like you’re running group.

    I really hope this comes across as I I mean it. You’re an inspiring, incredible woman. You’re the neighbor who runs marathons! (And now more.) you are Awesome. I just wish you felt it more often.

    • zoot

      I think it came across exactly how you meant it, thank you! I often think about that – the connection between this type of issues (stress eating) and any other emotional issues and how maybe treating one would help them all.

      THANK YOU!

  • Steph T.

    I know exactly how you feel. It is defeating, but all of the comments above are true. Your body could be storing extra glycogen, you could just be dehydrated (and your body is storing water), you could have gained some more muscle mass. Any of those can cause a pound weight gain. My new mantra…if it helps…is to not look at weight loss or gain over a week, but over a month. The week before my period I always gain, if I eat too much meat the day before I weigh myself I will gain…so many things. If I look at it over a month, it is a true indicator of how I am doing. Keep at it and Eff the scale! šŸ™‚

  • Liv

    Don’t binge!!! And stop getting on the scale. Limit yourself to once a week at the MOST!!!!The scale is only a number, it is not a reflection of what is actually going on in that amazing body of yours. Hide the scale, or have D hide it. The scale IS NOT KIM!!!

  • Winnie

    What are you using for fuel on long runs? Gatorade/salt packs, etc are high in sodium (obviously that’s the point) and can make you retain water. I’m sure that’s part of your issue. And you are doing awesome on the not binging. That is huge and you know it.

    • zoot

      I try to avoid too much salt since it makes my stomach upset, so during the winter I mainly use water, but I still think water retension may be a thing to consider…

  • Jenn D

    The number on the scale is a tool, not a real indicator of where you are when you really don’t have THAT much fat to lose. Anything can cause the number to go up: water retention, constipation, food still in your system, where you are hormonally.

    Personally, I prefer to measure my body but even bloating can cause issue with me there. I’ve gained and lost over 6 pounds in the last week due to bloating alone!

    I will suggest that if you have a few pounds you want to lose: try lifting heavier weights. All that conditioning and running for some body types can make your body want to hang on to fat stores. I did bootcamp for almost a year and excelled to the point where it was getting pretty easy, but I stopped losing fat. I started some serious weights in the gym and the fat started to come off pretty quickly. And weight lifting improved my yoga strength and form and increased my endurance and strength in running as well.

  • Jane

    You are so not alone. That emotional eater side of my brain is such a pain, and I blame her for the 20 pounds I gained last year when I was trying to finish my dissertation and worked for a horrible boss. The fact that I have dropped 9 of those 20 (and really want to lose 30) makes her want to EAT FOR JOY! AAAAACCCCCKKKK!

  • Lori

    Try not to worry (and put down the doughnuts) as I always gain weight after long runs. Between glycogen stores after a long run and the amount of hydration during and following the run plus the added possiblity of muscle gain.

    You are going great, don’t let one rough week discourage you. You are a work in progress, just like the rest of us.

  • Lindsey

    Don’t go for the donuts. You can do it!

    And, to go along with the theme of the comments, I wanted to share that I just signed up for a 5K mud run because of you. The pictures you shared of yours and the journey you’ve been on has given me the courage to just do this. And I’m so excited about it. So thank you.

    • zoot

      That makes me feel so good because I started my journey because of other friends online and it feels like I’m paying them back somehow when people tell me stuff like this! THANKS!

  • Ali

    Can I chime in as another lurker against the scale? You have so much going on to add stress these days–is the scale worth it? I hate the thought of a random pound getting you down when you’ve done so amazingly well with managing the impulse to binge and your AMAZING work running super long distance endurance runs. Kim, you can run ULTRAMARATHONS!!!! That is SO amazing! Ugh, I so don’t want to be giving obnoxious advice. But if the scale is undermining your serious, major achievement of eating thoughtfully and KICKING ASS athletically? It belongs in the dumpster.

    • zoot

      I know! I just can’t give it up. I have no idea what my compulsion is about weighing daily but I can’t seem to NOT do it. šŸ™‚ And yes – I need to remind myself of things like my 20lb one-arm shoulder presses this morning! WOOOO!!

  • dori

    I agree with everyone on here! I have a similar problem – I am cringing at the thought of a week where I’ll show a big weight gain with MFP because I’m sure it will happen eventually. You are an inspiration and just your healthy exercise is something I look up to so much – your calories burned posts on MFP are a source of wonder to me. Do you eat back your exercise calories? I have been and so far I’m still losing weight — I only set mine to lose .5 pounds a week so I could have more calories – I also haven’t banned myself from any foods at all, just count calories for every single thing. Good luck, you’re doing great!

    • zoot

      YES. I eat back ALL of my exercises. Sometimes I even add more exercise to eat more food! And I set mine at .5lb too!

  • Jess

    I’m a severely emotional eater.

    An anxiety disorder combined with four kids, one of them special needs, and I help all the ugly go away through bags of kettle cooked potato chips and pints of Ben and Jerry.

    So I get it.

    I joined weight watchers about a year ago, but didn’t actually do it until the last month. Biggest thing that’s helped me avoid that emotional roller coaster about the scale number? ONLY weigh yourself once a week. PIck a day, and only weigh yourself on that day, first thing in the morning. It’s made a huuuge difference in my brain playing games with me.

    • zoot

      I’ve tried that so many times! But I don’t know what it is – a compulsion of some sorty – but I just feel like I can’t go without weighing every day. I wish I could stop but I think there’s something consoling about actually KNOWING it fluctuates so much. I don’t know – it’s crazy I’m sure!

  • Rayshell

    I feel your pain. I weigh myself everyday! I am an emotional night eater and joined weight watchers four weeks ago. I’ve been good and I’ve lost 6 lbs, but it is a HUGE struggle. I have no awesome words of encourgement, SORRY! BUT you are not alone! šŸ™‚ Hang in there!!

    • zoot

      Thank you for commiserating as an EVERYDAY weigh-er. I just can’t NOT do it. And believe me, knowing I’m not alone is exactly what I need šŸ™‚